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Friday, September 7, 2012

20 Uploaders Responsible for 90% Fake Torrents

One of the most important issues that BitTorrent users have to cope with on a regular basis is fake torrents which are uploaded to popular trackers like The Pirate Bay by malicious users in order to distribute malware or use other users in other ways. The latest research claims that 90% of fake torrents are uploaded by only 20 users. The researchers have analyzed a sample set of 30,000 torrents uploaded to TPB within two weeks in 2011. The surprising part was that over 1/3 of all torrents were associated with fake content, which makes an increase of 5% compared to a previous year.

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The developers decided not to rely on user accounts in the attempt to identify fake publishers, because it’s a flawed method thanks to the possibility to create as many user accounts as you want on the website. Instead, the developers took a look at the IP addresses that were used to distribute the fake files. That’s how they identified 20 publishers that were responsible for 90% of the fake torrent uploads on The Pirate Bay tracker.

Over 99% of all fake torrents found by the researchers were either used to distribute viruses directly or to take advantage of the users by getting them to visit scam sites or other forms of scams. The rest 1% of the fake torrents were associated with anti-piracy companies and outfits.

The research mentions some interesting products, including a service called TorrentGuard. The latter is available both as an Internet service and a plugin for the Vuze BitTorrent application. Everyone can visit the TorrentGuard official website in order to verify a torrent either by uploading it to the service, or pasting its info hash or magnet link into a special form on the portal.

TorrentGuard basically checks the torrent in a database in order to verify whether it’s legit (which is likely) or fake. However, the industry experts point out that they had some issues to get the Internet service in their attempts to verify the torrents they tried to check through it. 35% seems a very high index for the number of fake torrents. Some of the experts explain it with the small sample size and period. The intentions of the people who distribute them are clear, so it is recommended to be always alert when downloading torrents.

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